Sidecar racers Diarmuid Mac Réamoinn (right), from Murrisk, and John Shipley, Liverpool. Diarmuid is gearing up for the Isle of Man TT, at which he will be the first man from Connaught to compete.

Mayo man will be first ever 'passenger' from Connaught at Isle of Man TT

A MAN who grew up in the shadow of Croagh Patrick is gearing up to ride in the famed Isle of Man TT in early summer.

Murrisk native Diarmuid Mac Réamoinn loved vehicles from a young age, cars and tractors to start with before discovering motorbikes – much to his long suffering mother's dismay!

“I had a poster of an Aprilla RSV Mille R in red on my bedroom wall. Wanted a bike when I was 16, was met with 'Not under my roof' – which was probably wise in retrospect as I was young and hot blooded!” said Diarmuid.

The sport he eventually discovered is sidecar racing, and Diarmuid believes he will be the first passenger ever from Connaught at the TT when he competes in early June.

But how does a man from west Mayo get to the Isle of Man TT? Buckle up for a blast of a ride.

Diarmuid explains: “On finishing my degree in radiography I soon managed to get a locum position in the Isle of Man. It was on the hallowed shores I discovered the sport of sidecar racing and saw my first sidecar (outfit(s), as called within the sport). I gained my road license for bikes on the island. Subsequently went home, bought a race bike and had to attend an assessment day. On the same day new passengers were being assessed, so I asked if I could do both. Happily I could! Such a coincidence of just going for it brought me into the world of sidecar racing.

“I found on joining the ranks of the sidecar racers that it was almost like having a large extended family that you only get to see once a month from March to October, everyone helping out each other with tools, food, parts, etc, just to keep people on track – and I loved it.

“The first few meetings were tough. I remember rolling off the back of the outfit completely exhausted after an eight-lap race. It's a totally different set of muscles and skills used to piloting a normal bike. A totally different kind of fitness, which is difficult to replicate anywhere else. That was five years ago, and I've been racing since bar the stoppage for Covid.”


Coming out of Covid, at the end of 2022, Diarmuid passengered for a man called John Shipley from Liverpool at the Anglesey Grand, which is the last meeting of the year for bikes and sidecars at the Anglesey circuit.

“It was during this meeting that John asked me to passenger him for TT 2023. This was a very significant step and offer to make, made even more tempting as it was the 100th anniversary of sidecars racing on the TT circuit. After I discussed it with a number of people, I decided I wasn't prepared enough to take on the challenge at that point, but I would make it my mission for 2023 to get vastly more seat time in order to be ready for a potential jilt at it in 2024.”

So last year, the Mayo man competed in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (due to well- publicised insurance issues, there was no bike racing in the Republic of Ireland), mostly on F2 machinery (see panel) in mixed grids, leaving him at a power disadvantage.

“It was a good year without spectacular results, but equally no injuries, decent finishes and lots of experience,” said Diarmuid.

“I discussed with John whether or not his offer still stood after the close of the 2023 season. He agreed and we put our application for entry to the TT organisers. This involves sending my results in to show that I could passenger fast enough bikes to meet the standard of entry for the event. The results satisfied the organisers and the entry was accepted.”

As Diarmuid explains, the road to TT does not end there. “As a newcomer you have to learn the course. This is done in my case though a combination of the TT game on PS4 and hours of onboard laps on both bikes and sidecars. Then you must attend the island and do laps of the course in a car with an ex-TT passenger (Lee Cain). The first of these visits took place in January. Lee was happy with my course knowledge, and the next visit is April 6/7.

“Both myself and John then have to get enough race results or signatures from the clark of the course to acquire our mountain license.”

Diarmuid continues: “So on the F2 with John, our first meeting will be on the track we first raced together, Anglesey in Wales – only the coastal circuit as opposed to the international circuit. There is testing Easter Sunday (March 31) and racing Easter Monday (April 1). Next will be Scarborough on April 13/14 – we'll both be newcomers there – and then East Fortune on April 20/21 for the second Scottish Sidecar Festival (sponsored by Boris Stroud and his company, Marin). This was a fantastic event last year, with loads of sidecars and classic race bikes – I would highly encourage people to attend if they have an interest.

“Next will be the other Scottish circuit, Knockhill, on April 27/28. More people will be familiar with this one as it features on the British Superbike calendar.”


That brings us to May, when Isle of Man TT testing starts. “We may do some more racing if we need more bike time or we need to alter and check settings, but this is not in the schedule yet,” says Diarmuid, who will be travelling to TT on May 22 ahead of practice week, which begins on Monday, May 27.

The sidecar races are run over three laps of the TT (37.75 miles three times for 113.25 miles in total – with no stops!

“To put this into perspective,” says Diarmuid, “this is equivalent to 51.5 laps of the Mondello international track! It is usually complete in around an hour. Last year two teams broke the previous lap record, setting average speeds of over 120mph.”

When his younger brother, Liam, expressed a desire to join the sport, Diarmuid discovered it was unlikely that there would be a driver to give him a chance passengering, primarily because many teams stay the same year to year as trust is built up between passenger and driver.

But that didn't deter Diarmuid, who spotted an opportunity to get 'behind the bars' for the first time. “I decided I would try to acquire an outfit to drive. I bought a Jacobs F1 (long bike – see panel) powered by a Yamaha R1 engine. We will be testing on the international track at Mondello on Sunday (March 24, and our first race together will be on May 18/19 in Mondello.”

Companies or individuals would like their logo or name on either or both bikes can contact Diarmuid and Liam through the DMR Racing page on Facebook or by email to Even a small amount through their GoFundMe page (search for 'First Connaught Passenger at TT') would be greatly appreciated.

What may go unnoticed here in the west of Ireland is that the TT has an enormous audience, with approximately 80,000 people visiting to the Isle of Man for the event. Additionally, the TT Plus app streams the event live around the world. Three Wheeling Media sponsor both of the sidecar events and will be interviewing crews and displaying outfits via all of the assorted social media channels, which attract big viewing numbers.

So watch out for the Mayo man at this year's Isle of Man TT – and be part of his incredible journey if you can send some funds his way.


SIDECAR racing is nothing like what most people imagine. It's not a Wallace and Gromit-type affair with a sidecar bolted to a standard bike, though this is the origin of the sport.

The racing outfit is a sleek, purpose-built asymmetrical race machine with three wheels which requires the passenger (co-pilot, in reality) to move left and right while underway in order to maintain the grip and stability of the bike.

For the most part, in modern sidecar racing there are two categories: F1 (long bike) and F2 (short bike).

The F1 is a longer bike (approximately 10.5 feet long, five feet wide and 70cm tall.) It is powered by a 1,000cc (or one litre) bike engine. The frame can be tubular (tube steel, usually brazed together) or monocoque (aluminum sheet riveted together), with all of these frames hand made either by the teams themselves or, more commonly now, a specific chassis builder.

The F2 class is a shorter bike (approximately six feet) with an exclusively tubular chassis. It can be powered by a variety of engines, mostly due to a shortage of 600cc four-cylinder bike engines (600cc, four cylinders; 675cc, three cylinders (known as a triple); or 890cc, two cylinders (known as a twin).

F2 is the only class which is raced at the Isle of Man TT, where long bikes are prohibited.